High-performance smart ceramic coatings on light alloys
The vision set out by the UK government is that by the year 2050 almost every car and van should be Ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV). This goal will present a challenge for the automotive industry but at the same time an opportunity to remain a world leader in the industry. This can be achieved by developing lighter and more resistant materials for vans and cars, given the direct relationship between vehicle weight and fuel consumption.
Aluminium and magnesium are the lightest among the structural materials; they have excellent properties and are easily recycled. These advantages make them particularly interesting for the transport industry. From the corrosion point of view, aluminium behaviour is outstanding; however, the addition of alloying elements for improving its mechanical properties may reduce its corrosion resistance due to the formation of electrochemically active secondary phases, amongst other factors. Magnesium and its alloys are highly susceptible to corrosion in aggressive environments due to their active nature and to its low tendency to form passive layers.
Surface treatments are common practice to maximize the working life of metals, but traditional inert coatings only act as a physical barrier against the environment, and once damaged, no longer provide protection. This project proposal goes beyond this; it presents the possibility of creating smart coatings capable of interacting with the environment responding selectively to certain triggers, such as mechanical fracture, time, temperature or pH variations.
The objective of this project is the design, development and evaluation of smart anticorrosion coatings produced by Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation (PEO) to improve the long-term performance of components used in the transport industry. The research includes, optimisation of the synthesis process, characterisation of the coatings using advance characterisation techniques and evaluation of the materials performance in terms of corrosion and wear resistance.
Open to UK or EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the 3 years prior to the start of the PhD programme; the funding will cover full fees and a minimum stipend of £14,777 will be provided.